At 26 weeks pregnant, I was admitted into the hospital with cervical shortening. I had been on bed rest at home but with a two year old Hayden running around, I wasn’t following the doctor’s orders as strictly as I should have been.
So I was admitted for closer monitoring and strict bed rest. To be honest, I knew that this day was coming. They had told me at my very first high risk OB appointment that usually women who are pregnant with triplets have to go on bed rest and many of those women end up in the hospital.
But even though, I knew the day was coming, I was shock when I was actually admitted. I went in for a routine doctor’s visit and after the ultrasound, the doctor sent me straight to be OB triage to be worked up for admission.
I was pretty sure that I was not going to have the babies on that day or the days to follow but suddenly being in the hospital made the fact that I was going to have premature babies really real.
But as I settled into being in the hospital for what I thought would be the remainder of my pregnancy, I pushed all those worries and fears out of my mind. I made it my number one goal to just stay pregnant as long as I possibly could.
Until one weekend when I had reached the 30 week mark, my physician said to me, “You know, you really should go and take a tour of the NICU. I don’t think your babies will be coming soon but you should at least prepare yourself for what might happen.”
His words took my breath away because for the past 4 weeks my goal was just staying pregnant. I had not even let myself think about having premature babies. But I also knew that carrying my triplets full term probably not possible, especially if you asked the skin on my rapidly expanding belly.
But none the less, we, no I, needed to prepare. So Jeff and I set up a time to tour the NICU.
I remember being wheeled into the NICU and immediately my mind went into nurse mode. I am an ICU nurse myself, after all. My eyes went to the monitors and my brain began to process the data. But there was a problem, all this data was wrong, the numbers were too high and some where way to low. My nursing instincts kicked in and I felt like I had to treat something.
It was like the nurse that we were with could read minds. She looked right at me and sensed my need to do something, “Remember this is the pediatric world. You work with adults. I know the numbers look wrong but that is because they are babies, not adults. Everything is fine. And now, you need to be Mom and not Nurse.”
I relaxed and let my focus switch as we were taken around the NICU. We were shown different nurseries where the babies might be. We were shown different machines that they might be hooked up too. And we were also introduced to other parents.
Whenever I think about this night, there is always one parent, one Dad that sticks out in my mind. He sat in a rocking chair reading by a dimly lit monitor. His daughter was in an isolette. She was so tiny, so fragile. Her eyes were still fused shut. Her skin was so thin that I could see her blood vessel through it. And she was shaking because of the ventilator that she was on.
He told me that she had been born at 27 weeks. His wife just went into labor for no reason. It all happened so fast that his wife could not get the steroid shots to help her tiny lungs develop. They had had a rough road but as he lovingly looked down at his small, precious daughter, he said, “She is getting better. She is a fighter.”
Still to this day, as I watch my two year olds run and jump around, I wonder about him and his daughter. I wonder what happened. Is she healthy now? Is she running and jumping around? I truly hope so.
Technically, Jake, Quinn and Claire were preemies being born at 34 weeks. But I never really thought of them that way. To me they seemed like normal babies, just small, Jake 5lbs 12oz, Quinn 5lbs, 9oz and Claire 4lbs 3oz. We were very blessed that even from the beginning they were just in the ‘feed and grow’ nursery. During their 10 day stay, that is all they had to do.
I can’t even begin to image what it much have been like for that father and his wife to watch their baby struggle for her life. But it happens. Every day there are babies that are born prematurely and they begin an up hill battle for their lives.
Today is the day to raise awareness of premature births. To quote The March of Dimes, “Every year, 20 million babies are born too soon, too small and very sick ― half a million of them in the United States. November 17 is when we fight.”
I am also joining Debi in this fight.